Things to do… photography edition!

For those of you interested in photography and wanting to either further your education or challenge your skills I’ve found some free and inexpensive options to explore!

BEN SASSO – He has a handful of great paid education workshops. He also has a free lighting workshop and a really great newsletter which he sends infrequently but loaded with helpful hints when it does arrive in your inbox! You can find his workshops along with the free lighting working on his website here. I’ve always admired his work and would love to ask him to photograph me and my husband the next time we’re in his area!

SAM HURD – He has, without a doubt, the most valuable photography Patreon out there. He has shared literally EVERYTHING on his Patreon and it’s well worth the cost of the month subscription. I attended his workshop a few years back in California and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent on photography education. You can find his Patreon page here.

TRIBE ARCHIPELAGO – Their blog is a wealth of information. They have a great newsletter and Facebook group too and often do editing videos with their presets. You can find their blog online here.

MAG MOD – I discovered their flash/light systems a few years ago and have purchased a ton of their products. Their system is so well designed that I feel like it takes all of the guess work out of it for me. I am far from an expert at using off-camera light, but with their system every time I experiment, the images turn out exactly how I imagined them. I absolutely love the ease of their system and after years of heavy use, all of my products from them are still standing strong! I also really love their blog. They don’t post on there frequently, but there are so many great articles to go back and read through. Many of their posts contain videos too, showing how a variety of professional photographers use their products. They get you thinking creatively about light and show the numerous ways you can utilize their products. You can find their blog here.

CLICK IT UP A NOTCH – Both their ‘Photo Tips’ and ‘Resources’ pages have a lot of great content for free. Most of it is aimed toward beginners, but it has everything from outlining the uses and benefits of a variety of lenses to seasonal photography ideas, tips, and tricks. Start on their resources page here, and start exploring from there!

UNSCRIPTED – I work primarily through prompts. I’m an introvert and hate having my photos taken so I’ve always worked really hard to try to create and environment for my clients that even my own awkward self would feel comfortable in. My goal is for clients to walk away telling me they had fun and enjoyed the process. Prompts have quite literally changed my business and I’ve been using them for years. The Unscripted app is a wonderful resource to get you started using prompts. The app has quite a few free prompts on there. There is, of course, an option to upgrade your account and pay for more prompts too. You can download the app here.

CHALLENGES – And, if you’re looking for some creative inspiration, I’ve found a few photography challenge inspiration posts here, here, here, and here.

Also, I’m always more than happy to help and answer questions so if you start working through any of the challenges or are practicing your skills and need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out! Happy Capturing!

Things to do…

I’ve seen plenty of posts listing ‘things to do while quarantined’. Most of the posts though, contain ‘things to do’ to keep children busy while they’re homeschooling and stuck in the house. I wanted to create a similar list, but aimed more toward adults. Throughout this pandemic my anxiety has been causing my body to vibrate constantly and if I’m unable to keep my mind and body busy, my anxiety takes hold and I promise you it isn’t pretty. So, I’ve created a list. Because lists feel like they are bringing organization to the chaos. They make me feel like I’ve created some semblance of order and right now, that seems to ease my anxiety. So, here is a list of some things I’ve found over the last few days which are either free or heavily discounted to keep your mind busy while practicing #socialdistancing.

MYSTERY MANSION – If you love escape rooms as much as I do, you will be excited by this one! Regina’s Mystery Mansion is providing a live-streaming option so you can do an escape room from home and you can direct the game-master via live stream on what to do next. You can book in on their website here. I’m sure that other local escape rooms will also start offering something like this so please try to support local if you can and try out experiences like this one!

JSTOR – They have opened access to their journals and articles for FREE! You can find more information about what they’re offering and how you can access it here.

SCRIBD – They offer free 30 day access to unlimited books, magazines, and audiobooks. Past that 30 days memberships are only $8.99 which is a great deal for the content they have! You can find them online here.

AUDIBLE – They are offering free access to hundreds of children’s and teen’s audiobooks. I just browed the list of titles and there are some great titles in there including plenty of classics. They have advertised this as for children and teens but there is a large assortment of audiobooks everyone in the family will like. You can find all of these books here.

CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE – They are offering a discount on all of their courses until the end of the month if you use the discount code LEARNATHOME14 . They have some great personal development courses as well as some silly ones too! I’m currently taking a course on Cryptozoology and loving it! You can find all of their courses outlined on their website here.

NEW YORK POST STORE – They are also offering a lot of online courses at a heavily discounted rate. From what I can tell this sale ends in the next few days though so if you’re interested, act quickly! Also, if you were looking at any of the Centre of Excellence courses, many of their course are in this sale as part of bundles so they savings are huge. I was looking at a writing course and actually found it here as part of a bundle with a handful of extra writing courses and at half the cost compared to if I would have just bought it by itself from Centre of Excellence. You can see all the courses in the sale here.

RED HERRING GAMES – This is a company who creates Murder Mystery games. I’ve played one of their games before with my family and it was quite fun. We actually plan to do another here soon while everyone is still self-isolating. Because we can’t get together in person, we’re going to set up and online group video chat and play the game that way. Red Herring offers downloadable products and games so this is actually quite easy to do with friends and family. Also, they have a really fun newsletter option that’s solely puzzles. Every day they email a new puzzle to do and I always look forward to solving it! You can see their huge assortment of games online here.

As I find more things, I’ll add them to my list but until then, I hope you enjoy this and find something here which helps take your mind off of everything we’re dealing with right now. Much love and happiness to all of you!

The Dichotomy of a Day

I’ve alluded on social media that I have been struggling a bit on this trip. It was a bunch of little things that I don’t need to get into at the moment. I had/have the power to navigate all of them so they weren’t necessarily deal-breakers, just dampening my spirits a bit.

Last night I decided I would overcome one of my first hurdles and figure out how to order a Tuk Tuk to come pick me up and take me into town to explore a bit. After waiting for four hours for my cell phone service and the wifi to come back online I called a driver and in Spanish managed to give the correct address. 15 minutes later the driver pulled up and I was off to start the day. I asked him to take me to the Plaze de Mercado, the local fruit/fish market. I wandered the market and surrounding area, made my way down to the Amazon river, and even spoke with a few of the locals. I was SO proud of myself for overcoming my fear of calling someone who didn’t speak English and figuring the entire morning/afternoon out on my own and with great success. I made my way back to the house I’m staying at and was really excited to tell Aaron all about my day and what I had managed to do.

Shortly after I arrived back at the house I was sitting in my room, reading when popping noises broke the silence. I could tell they were off in the distance and at first thought, ‘that must just be kids playing with firecrackers’. A minute later half a dozen more pops sounded off and all I could think about was my dear friend Janelle describing the sounds she heard while in Vegas at the Route 91 shooting.

This wasn’t firecrackers.

I tried not to panic and just listened. They still sounded like they were a block or two away. There were gaps of silence between each grouping of shots. Then there was a round that were much closer than the others. After these shots a child started screaming and crying off in the distance. The shots were getting closer after each terrible gap of silence. I dropped to the floor and crawled to the corner. While belly-down on the tiles I peaked my head around the corner of my room. I watched as the front door and the gap between the door and floor allowing a sliver of sun to shine through suddenly had two leg-shaped shadows in it. Half a dozen more shots went off right outside of my front door. I lost it.

I was absolutely positive I was going to die. I left Aaron a voicemail sobbing and telling him I loved him. Children were still crying off in the distance and I have never felt more scared in my entire life. I desperately tried calling my Mom but she wasn’t answering, then I tried my brother, I tried calling Aaron again, probably six times in a row. Nobody was picking up and the guns had quieted outside. I sat in the corner of my room and sobbed uncontrollably. I was trapped in my room. There were bars on my bedroom windows, and if I left the room through the door I made myself visible to the front door and wall-sized window beside it which was only half-covered with a threadbare sheet. The back door led me to a 12-foot high cement wall and no way to climb it. I was SO mad at myself for not creating a better escape plan. I was sure I was going to be shot, crying in the corner alongside with few dead cockroaches.

Twelve long minutes passed and the front door swung open, but when I looked there wasn’t anyone there. Then the house cleaner rounded the corner. She told me there was indeed shooting outside but that I didn’t need to be scared. They were armed guards. It was fine, she told me. Nothing was fine, I was NOT fine.

I found out the day after this happened that another neighbor had also reported and automatic weapon being fired around the houses in the area I was staying. The local police told me there was indeed ‘conflict’ in the area. They were currently considering the area ‘unsafe’ and ‘at risk’ and advised me that I should not be there alone and recommended I move to a safer area immediately.

Every sound I hear outside sends me into a panic. A neighbour dropped a bike outside my windows a few hours ago and I started crying again. Every ounce of my being just wants to catch the next flight out of here and come home. I’m terrified, alone, and feel incredibly vulnerable. If this is ‘all part of the experience’ I want no part of it.

Travelling Anxieties

Photo by 蔡 嘉宇 on Unsplash

In just over three weeks I’ll be getting onto an airplane, by myself, and travelling to the Amazon rainforest. I’ve wanted to go my entire life but it’s one of those things that I never thought would actually happen. I also never thought that if it were to happen that my anxiety would be outweigh my excitement. But here we are…

Anxiety is a weird thing. I’ve struggled with it for my entire life but wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my mid-twenties. I feel I have a pretty good grasp on it; I understand what makes me anxious and why. And, because of this, while anxious much for the time, I’m still fulfilled and my anxiety is under control.

Well, it was under control until I realized how many days were remaining until I’m set to leave. The worst part is, I’m not even sure what I’m anxious about, which is making me even more anxious. I’m anxious about being anxious. Which, I assure you, is not a lovely cyclical agony to be stuck in. 

I’m a planner. So, I thought, maybe planning everything out would help. I could make lists, read blogs, go on Pinterest and figure out what I need to do and prepare. I’ve now realized though, I have NO idea what I’ve even preparing for. I’m going to a city where it rains every day, but is also 40+C every day, and also has 100% humidity every day. My thighs touch, all of the time. I just can’t see this ending well. This is the type of environment which the locals have coined “gringo killing weather”. So basically I’m preparing my demise. Perfect. 

Also, I’m nearly positive everything will make me sick so I’ve been trying to plan for that too. I have a water bottle with a special filter and enough Imodium, Pepto, Gravol, and Tylenol to supply a small village. But just today, when I was expressing all of this to a friend she asked, did you get Benadryl?! No, of course I didn’t, but I’m currently zipping up my coat for another trip to the pharmacy. How did I turn into one of ‘those’ people? I’m usually the one making fun of Aaron for packing too many pairs of shoes but here I am running a portable hospital out of my backpack. 

My Mom called me yesterday because she “thought of something”. I should preface this by mentioning she has already, very thoughtfully, created a custom first aid kit for me (maybe this is where my anxiety is stemming from?). She tells me she was having lunch with a friend and they were discussing my travels. While talking they decided that I should ask my doctor for an epi-pen. At first glance, not a bad idea, right? But then some logic started to seep through my anxiety-riddled mind and I stated, “I’ve made it through 35 years of my life not having an anaphylactic reaction to anything. I don’t currently carry an epi-pen around ‘just in case’, it seems absurd to get one now as a precaution.” My response sounded well-thought out, very stable. I didn’t bother to mention my rather large collection of over-the-counter medications I have hoarded for this trip, but I don’t think that would have helped my point. 

Prior to this trip my biggest travel concerns were which books to pack and how I would deal with my inability to run away if the person beside me on the airplane vomited. This round though, I’m concerned about the weather which is unfathomable to a Saskatchewan girl’s mind. I’m worried about whether my portions of anti-expelling-bodily-fluids medications will be enough to get me through my travels. I’m anxious about botflies, because there truly isn’t anything else in Amazon that gives me goosebumps more than those disgusting little creatures. And I haven’t even begun to list all of the normal travel stressors like not being able to fluently speak the language, or missing my husband and our pets terribly, not knowing what photography gear to take, or choosing the wrong underwear for the climate. 

I’ve been preparing for this trip since I was three years old, but I’ve never felt so unprepared for anything in my entire life. 

Photo by Marco Marques on Unsplash

Meeting Bigfoot

I wrote this post months ago and only now am realizing I never shared it. So, if you enjoy reading my random mutterings, here’s another one for you!

I need to preface this story with a few facts. The first, I live for unique experiences. I’ve always made every effort to live my life to the fullest and yearn for experiences that allow me to tell stories. Spontaneity and adventure are two of my most favourite things.

Also, I love Bigfoot. Like really, love Bigfoot. Of all the cryptozoology creatures, Sasquatch is the one I’ll do my best to convince anyone who will listen to my wild theories, is the real deal. And I’m only a tiny bit joking about this.

So now, onto the story about how I met Bigfoot…

When my cousin emailed our family to tell everyone that my Grandma wasn’t doing well I knew I needed to pack up and make the trip out to Edmonton to see her before it was too late. I had just finished a tour at work and only had 70 hours before I had to work again but I was going to make it there one way or another. After a late visit at the hospital I chose a hotel at random to crash for the night before going back to see her again in the morning. It was close to 01:00 when my sister, Regan and I walked through the doors of the Chateau Nova, bags over our shoulders and under our eyes. We were greeted by a tall, burly man with a pleasant smile. I looked up to meet his greeting but stopped at his name tag. It said Bigfoot. I laughed and told him I loved his name tag. He laughed quietly and so I pushed and said, “No really, I LOVE your name tag. I’m a huge fan of Bigfoot”.

“Do you want to see something?” He asked while pulling out his phone.

Regan took a step backward, while I excitedly yelled, “Yes!! I do!” It was at this point in me telling Aaron the story that he interrupted me, noting, “You do realize there’s an incredibly real possibility that this man who calls himself Bigfoot was pulling out his phone to show you a photo of his junk, right?” I told him I was willing to take that chance.

Regan, now a few feet away from this conversation, likely contemplating her exit strategy asks from a distance, “Is the point in the conversation I tell you to stop talking to strangers?”

“No, Regan. It’s not. We are bonding over a common love for Bigfoot and this is very important.”

Bigfoot pulls out his phone, scrolls through some photos and finds what he’s looking for. He passes his phone over to me with a smile on his face. I eagerly grabbed at his phone and on it is a photo of Bigfoot (like THE Sasquatch) sitting on a fallen tree in a forest, reading a newspaper.

“That’s me!!” He exclaimed.

I started doing my happy dance, jumping with excitement and told him he HAD to get me a copy of that photo. He didn’t really say anything, he just smiled and told me about the circumstances that led to him wearing a Bigfoot costume in the middle of a forest. He had been cast in a tv show a few years back and after making a mental note of the show and thanking him for showing me the photo we set off to out room. As soon as we got to the room I started Googling him and found the episode of the show he was on. I had been watching it for a few minutes when there was a knock at the door. I looked through the peep hole and Bigfoot was standing on the other side. I opened the door and blurted, “I’m watching your show!” “How on earth did you find it?!” he asked. “My research skills are impeccable,” I replied. He laughed and handed me an envelope. I took it and asked, “Is this our bill?”He shook his head and immediately I knew what was inside. I tore the envelope open and excitedly pulled out an autographed 8×10 of the photo he had showed me on his phone. I thanked him profusely for making my week and off he went.

A few days after this my grandma passed away and I found myself back in Edmonton for her funeral. I already knew I had stay at Chateau Nova and Bigfoot was there to check me in again. He recognized me right away and asked what my husband thought of the photo. I told him Aaron thought it was hilarious. I didn’t mention that Aaron also thinks that I’m wildly eccentric and weird but that’s beside the point. As he was checking me in I had mentioned I thought there may have been a mix up with our rooms as I booked for my parents too and was pretty sure they got my room when they checked in earlier. He said he could see the error and would fix it up for me. When I walked into my room I saw that he had “fixed” it by booking me into a huge suite. It pays to make friends with Bigfoot!

Humour aside, it’s the little things like these interactions that make my heart so happy. And, I don’t think Bigfoot realizes it but the multiple trips to Edmonton were not for happy reasons. Saying goodbye to my last living grandparent was awful. But, he brought a smile to my face when it was much needed and that signed photo is now hanging on my office wall as a constant reminder that when given the opportunity, you should always make friends with Bigfoot.

Penny

I need to preface this post by saying that if you hadn’t set out to read something sad today, you’ll probably want to stop reading. I would hate to make anyone sad and honestly, this post is more of a selfish one. It’s one I needed to write to help me heal; it’s just my way of dealing with things.

I’ll backtrack to approximately 10 years ago. I was living in Moose Jaw and met this incredible guy. I fell for him immediately, and hard. We discussed moving in together mere weeks after we started dating and less than three months into our relationship we were sharing a home and two dogs. Penny, was one of those dogs. We adopted Penny a few weeks before we moved in together, so I really haven’t known this home, or mine and Aaron’s relationship for that matter, without Penny being part of the equation.

I always told Aaron I wanted a dog who would protect me. It often brought me to tears even thinking about it, but she made it quite clear she would lay down her life if it meant she would be keeping her people safe.

From the very beginning she loved us, almost to a fault. She had one of the biggest hearts I have ever had the privilege of witnessing in a living being. She hugged with a fierceness that ensured you knew she meant it with everything she had. If Penny loved you, you felt it, and she made sure you felt it as often as possible.

Fast forward to a few months ago… As we do every year, we took the girls in for their annual checkups. The vet and tech both commented how healthy Penny was for her age and how well she was doing. She was a big dog and at 11 years old, she was hardly showing her age. Which, for me, was always a relief. Penny was SO full of life that I often admitted how much it was going to break my heart to see her slow down with age. I joked that she would be the one who would die running because that was just the type of personality she had. I always knew she would hate the process of getting old and would have been frustrated and unable to understand why she couldn’t keep up anymore. There’s a part of me that’s grateful she never had to experience that.

Just two and a half short weeks ago, we had a big BBQ at the house with my family. They all came out to enjoy our renovated yard and one of the last warm evenings of the summer. Aaron and I watched Penny as she wandered between everyone who was there, coming in for belly rubs, hugs, and cuddles. She had the biggest smile on her face the entire night. We hadn’t seen her that happy in ages and it brought me to tears seeing her so in love with everyone being there in her yard, giving her love. I am SO happy she had that night. It’s almost as though she knew she was saying goodbye to everyone.

On the morning of Sunday August 19th Aaron and I packed up and headed out to Edmonton. We had planned a little trip to spend some time together before I started back to school and just get away for a few days. My Dad arrived at our house shortly after we left to fulfilling his duties as Grandpaw and house sitter. When he arrived, Penny was running around the backyard with her sister, acting like her normal goofy self. By supper time though, it was evident something was wrong and she wouldn’t eat her supper. We were concerned but figured she would be ok by the morning. Early the next morning she still refused to eat and after my Dad Facetimed us, I knew we needed to go back home immediately because there was something very wrong.

While on the road, we frantically called our local vet to try to get her in. They assured us she was probably just sad we weren’t home and not to worry about it. I know my dog though and insisted that she needed an appointment that day. After a cancellation (THANKFREAKINGGOODNESS!) they called us back and my Dad rushed her in. After x-rays and an exam we were told she would need to be rushed from Lumsden to Saskatoon for emergency services. We were racing toward my Dad who had Penny, while he raced toward us. We met in a small town, quickly traded vehicles and were heading back in the direction of a team of doctors in Saskatoon.

She could barely breath, her heart was racing, but every time I said her name she gave me a little tail wag. I could tell she was in pain but I couldn’t help her and that left me hollow. We were sure we were doing everything we could for her and if she was just able to stay with us until Saskatoon, we knew she would make it. Neither of us even considered that we might be driving home with an empty back seat.

We ran through the doors of the emergency animal hospital at the University of Saskatchewan. They checked her vitals in the waiting room and after reading how fast her heart was racing, they ran away with her. We were shuffled into a small office. The ones with diagrams of internal organs displayed on the walls; the ones where bad news is shared, and hearts are broken.

We were told Penny’s body had gone into shock and after three and a half hours of fighting, the team of doctors were unable to stabilize her. They took us in to see her and again, as soon as I cried her name, she wagged her tail. They assured me she wasn’t feeling pain, but watching her pant and struggle to breathe was more than my heart could handle. We were told that her chances of making it through the night, even with a team of doctors working on her was extremely slim and even if she did, that she would need to spend weeks, if not months in recovery at the hospital and likely on a ventilator too.

My body was numb. I just couldn’t understand how a dog who was so full of life, less than 24 hours earlier was now struggling to breathe. It didn’t make sense. In that moment though, we knew we needed to do what was right for Penny and honor what we thought her last wishes would have been.

She has always hated going to the vet. There is nothing in life she hated more than going to the vet. And if nothing else, we knew we couldn’t let her die in a hospital as that would have been that last thing she would have ever wanted. It was midnight, but we asked them if we could take her outside to say goodbye. The staff there was so amazing and kind to all of us during this awful night. They unhooked her from all the machines, wrapped her up in a blanket and wheeled her hospital bed outside. When we met up with her outside, I called her name, and again, she gave me a tail wag. It’s that tail wag that just crushes me. This sweet dog, who was fighting to live, and clearly in a world of pain, still put all of that aside to show me that sign of love. I’ll never forget that tail wag and I don’t think there will ever be time in my life that I’ll be able to talk about it without sobbing.

We had brought along her favorite blanket so we laid it in the grass and cuddled outside with her under the moonlight. We told her how much we loved her and how good she was. We told her to say ‘hi’ to Scotia, Gert, Rokx, and Sam for us and give everyone a hug. We told her she was the best dog in the world and that we were going to miss her more she would ever know. She closed her eyes and with both of us, hugging her this time, we all said our last goodbye.

******************************************************************************

Because this entire experience was completely unexpected, sudden, and traumatic, we opted to have an autopsy done. A few days ago the amazing doctor who was treating Penny called to discuss the results. She was diagnosed with chronic heart disease but did not exhibit any telling symptoms until mere hours before she died. They discovered that her mitral valve failed causing the right side of her heart to stop working. We were informed this can be extremely hard to diagnose in dogs, especially when the damage happens on the right side. While we’re still waiting for a bit more information, it doesn’t sound like there’s anything we could have done to prevent it, unfortunately. I just hope she’s continuing to live her best life, wherever she is, and that there are creatures around who love hugs, because loving is what she’s best at.

*Images in this post were taken by Stick Productions one week before we lost Penny*

 

Nevermore

There has been a robin making my life miserable lately. He has been waking me up at awful hours tapping on my bedroom window. So, I wrote him a poem… (side note – I’m awful at poetry, I know, but writing this made me laugh. And, after days of barely sleeping, I needed that! Also, if you didn’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Poe, so this is, obviously, with him in mind.)

****

Once upon an early morning, my husband lay there, softly snoring                      I realized I had been awoken, not from mumbled sleeping words spoken     But because I heard a tapping, loudly rapping, which wasn’t at my chamber door                                                                                                                                      The sound came from behind the curtain – “you shall sleep, nevermore”

For once it wasn’t just my cat, eating my hair, imagine that!                               No massaging claws down my back

It wasn’t the dogs, begging for breakfast, needing to pee, or whining incessant Everyone was quiet but the tapping, ever present

Weak and weary I wished it away but to my dismay the tapping was here to stay                                                                                                                                 Pounding loudly on the glass, a tiny robin was visible at last                                  I threw open the curtains to scare it away, but it returned without delay Rapping, tapping, never napping, that damn robin did not stray

Morning after morning he did rise and silently I planned his demise     Hoping, praying he would disappear before I bring the poison near

I fear I’ll forever hear this rapping, tapping, inside my ear
Sanity slipping, hands are gripping, crumbled sheets no longer used for slipping, slipping into sleepy snores

That stupid bird forever tapping, rapping, reminding me I will sleep, nevermore

I’m with the band

I recently realized that 2017 marks my 15 year high school reunion. And, if that didn’t make me feel old, a recent social outing certainly reminded me of the passing time.

Growing up, I dated a boy in a band. He was a ridiculously talented musician and I stood along the sidelines for every show he played.

Apparently I have a thing for lead-guitarists, because now I’m married to one. And, just like when I was younger, following the boy and music, I’ve found myself standing next to the piles of empty guitar cases, ear to the music, once again.

I’ve come to notice though, being ‘with the band’ as a teenager versus being ‘with the band’ in my 30’s is an extraordinarily different experience…

My runners stuck to the tacky floor, my movement like velcro teeth separating from one another. My surroundings were familiar – music, alcohol, a dancing crowd. But there was an unfamiliar presence hanging on the air, assaulting my senses, the heavy flavour of urinal pucks. And that my friends, is when I realized just how many years have passed since I was last, ‘a girl with the band’.

The shows now begin promptly at 7:00 pm, because well, it’s a work night, and wrapping at 10:00 pm is pushing everyone’s structured sleep routine. Instead of hanging off the loading dock, puking up the 2-4 they chugged before the show, the bands are now discussing office politics and silencing their buzzing devices, reminding them to take their heart pills and anxiety medications. In my younger years, the more black you could wear, the better. Now, we wear red plaid to show our support. Circle pits have been taken over by the one old man, ‘letting lose’, flailing his arms in a dance that would put Carlton to shame.

When it comes down to it though, I’ll take “The Log Driver’s Waltz” over screamed lyrics even the song’s writer no longer understands, any day.

Valentine’s Day for Book Lovers

We’ve never been the couple to celebrate Valentines Day, but for some reason, I love making these ‘wish lists’. So, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the book-lover in your life here are a few that have made it to the top of my ‘wish list’!

These enamel pins by Book Riot! There are some wonderful Edgar Allan Poe ones, but I found this set particularly endearing.

Janemount on Etsy has a beautiful collection of bookish pins too (including a seven Harry Potter ones!).

When I was in Omaha to see Stephen King speak I finally found a store that sold Frostbeard candles. I’ve been curious if they smell as good as it sounds like they do, and the answer is in the affirmative. They are divine and there are so many unique scents to choose from. This is one of my favorites!

I’ve seen the picture of stair treads painted with books spines floating around Pinterest for ages now. We all have, it’s a popular one. It’s one of those DIY’s I’ve always wanted to try out, but the amount of time it would take to piece it all together always forces that project to the back burner. Horse Feather Decals on Etsy has solved that problem though. This is such a unique gift idea!

The Ohlala sells these dreamy literary scarves! I’ll take one of each, please!

Heath and Harebell knows the way to every book-lover’s heart; literary chocolate for the win!

 

 

Timing is everything

My life is riddled with coincidences, signs, and nudges. Every other day I find myself exclaiming, “Isn’t it weird how that worked out!?”. My husband just gives me the same look, it’s a look he has customized specifically for situations like this as they happen so frequently. After ten years together, I can confidently say he’s not as firm a believer in ‘signs’ as I am. Nonetheless, these little nudges I’m given, sometimes daily, are now so frequent, every so often I’m able to turn him into a believer.

I’ve always had the attitude that if I just work my butt off for something and really, really want it, I can make it happen. Call me naive,  but it’s working for me, so let’s just roll with it.

Case in point, National Geographic. I’ve been talking about getting published in National Geographic since I was approximately three years old (and no, it still hasn’t happened, but I’m working on it!). This dream is what is fueling me through the long hours of studying, reading, and writing, as I work toward an MA in Anthropology.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the professor who I’ve always hoped would supervise my MA. We talked about the Amazon and travelling there to do fieldwork. We discussed thesis questions and started to formulate a game plan for this dream of mine. I came home that night, a little overwhelmed with what it all meant – travelling to the jungle, learning Portuguese and relearning Spanish (why didn’t I continue with it the first time!?!), and a whole lot of competition in a heavily researched field of study. For a few fleeting moments, I started to consider alternate options. I considered doing fieldwork closer to home, taking the easier route on this journey. And road which would undeniably be filled with less anacondas and panthers, but one which would also make me less desirable to that light at the end of the tunnel, National Geographic. I’ve never taken the easy route, but I was so tired and easy was appealing.

A few short hours of sleep later and I was heading out for another day at the University. As is my ritual, I stopped at our local Esso to fill up and grab coffee. While there, my dear friend Randy, told me he had a story for me. He told me his wife was in town shopping and came home with a beautiful coffee table book filled with images by National Geographic photographers. He told her he knew someone who would like a copy so she drove all the way back into the city and bought me a copy! That right there was another one of those signs. National Geographic slapping me in the face and Randy reminding me why I was doing what I was doing. He told me that one day, one of my photos will be in there and I told him that when that day came, I would bring him a copy of the book. I thanked him profusely, but I honestly don’t think they will every know just how much that book means to me.

I cleared a spot on my bookshelf next to my desk where it is sitting on display. I have it there to remind me every single day exactly what I’m fighting for and the dream I’ve been working toward for my entire life. Randy and Myrna, I honestly can’t thank you enough for giving me that nudge at the moment when I needed it most. It truly means the world to me.